Friday, November 16, 2007


"The problem of censorship is not a problem of the Filipino artist alone. Censorship is repression, more insidious and therefore more than closing down a publishing house, burning books, or arresting a writer. Indeed, repression is an evil that only organized unity can fight. Censorship is only one form of repression, a violation of human rights."
- Dean Armando Malay

The recent defilement of the Neo Angono Collective’s “press freedom” mural and previous x rating of the Southern Tagalog Exposure’s video on human rights has drawn reaction ranging from sympathy to outrage from the artist community and the public in general.

The much-talked about Neo Angono Collective mural entitled “Sangandaan ng Kasaysayan” which aims to depict the country’s history of press freedom has been labeled as leftist by the same organization that commissioned it, the National Press Club, as well as the Presidential Security Group, resulting in NPC’s bastardizing and vandalizing the mural, defacing some of the country’s known press freedom icons, and erasing in totality some very significant personalities and events.

Sensible debates have come up from this malfeasance of the NPC leadership, which have made the issue of censorship closer to the people. The unabated, institutionalized and systemic graft and corruption under the Arroyo regime has also been unveiled as the NPC has apparently shortchanged the artists by P200,000 according to the budget.

This act of censorship has stirred the critical and nationalist sense of the Filipino people. It has opened the eyes of artists that censorship is in fact an act of repression and only mirrors the economic, political and civil rights violations happening these days and further galvanized the artists to the broader concerns of the country.

The mural is a documentation of the Filipino people’s history and heroic tradition as witnessed by the artist. By defacing it, it is militancy that the present regime wants to erase and stifle. Defacing it is simply a depiction of the political repression that is happening in the broader sense. The crimes of the Arroyo regime speak of the number of victims of extra judicial killings, particularly writers, journalists and even the common tao who are critical of the administration. The artist, as a witness and seer, will not easily be threatened by this act of repression.

Indeed, the artists, writers and cultural workers can no longer remain silent and noncommittal on the continuing violation of the freedom of expression in the country. We can no longer just sit back and watch as our fellow countrymen are slowly being molded into numb, fearful individuals deprived of their integral right to life, liberty and dignity. We will not be reduced as mere spectators.

No to censorship! No to repression! Yes to expression!